Off the Wall

There is one aspect of the debacle otherwise known as the Cronulla Sharks that need to be pursued more vigorously and openly.

It is simply this - how did the Gallop, Mattiske, and now Smith administrations of the NRL allow the Sharks to become, and remain, a totally ineffective, disorganised and discredited rabble?

The recent crisis at the debacle did not just happen. It has been happening for years - it just got a whole lot worse when ASADA, and probably the Crime Commission, shone the spotlight on the club.

Sunday's pathetic plea by the former Chairman, who was for several years almost club dictator, for sacked staff not to sue him was not just a condemnation of Mr Irvine, it again raised the question - why have successive NRL administrations allow this to happen?

Until two weeks ago Damian Irvine was running - and running into the ground - one of the 16 NRL clubs, with a multi million dollar turnover, and probably a couple of hundred employees when you throw in the Leagues Club.

But on Sunday he claimed he has no fixed address, no assets, could only be contacted by email, was financially distressed, and it would seem no nothing!

One assumes he has been in this "position" for some time.

Given that even I know living in Brisbane that the Sharks have been financially cactus for a long time, how has the NRL allowed someone who himself was cactus financially to be the Chairman, acting CEO, and whatever else of an NRL premiership club?

What the Sharks debacle, and the Irvine disgrace, reveal is a very worrying lack of diligence by the NRL when it comes to the oversight of NRL clubs.

It would even seem they did not even require the Sharks Chairman to have what every company I know insists on - directors insurance. One wonders if Irvine has not had directors insurance cover for the last fine years, how many of his fellow directors have it?

The problem is a simple one - the game has become totally professional on the field, but off the field there remain far too many clubs administrations, and boards in particular, that don't meet even the most basic professional requirements of competence let alone accountability.

The NRL needs to get its head of of the corporate sand hill and use the Sraks and Irvine debacles to lift club administrations into the 21st century!

The NRL can't be blamed for the alleged drug abuse issues. But it must accept some of the blame for a hopeless, dysfunctional Sharks administration, headed by a well meaning poor soul who was hopelessly out of his depth.

We know now what the state of the Sharks administration was - the question remains how many other clubs are not much better?